Florida community on edge as authorities search for suspected rapist: 'Just very devastating'

Reddick is a small community – a one-intersection town with fewer than 500 residents. People there largely know each other, and crime isn’t a part of everyday life.

"I really felt safe, not having to lock my doors," one woman who lives there told FOX 35.

However, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a 91-year-old woman on Sunday around midnight, saying a man had broken into her house, beaten her, and sexually battered her.

A family member of that woman told FOX 35 she, just like the neighbors, had always considered Reddick a safe area.

"You hear about it, but you don’t think it’ll happen in a small town like this that you’ve spent your whole life in, and you know everyone in town," she said. "Just very devastating."

The family member of the victim told FOX 35 that the elderly woman had a concussion, major bruising across her face and torso, and skin ripped from her arm.

"It was terrible," she said. "Nobody deserves to be beat like that."


Some people FOX 35 spoke with Tuesday had already heard about the attack. Those who hadn’t were astonished by it.

"That’s scary," a Reddick woman said. "It’s very quiet over here. I feel safe. My kids feel safe. So it was surprising to hear."

What makes things even more difficult for the Sheriff’s Office is that it was dark when this happened, and the elderly victim was disoriented, so she didn’t get a good look at her attacker.

"We’re processing through a lot of evidence," said Lt. Paul Bloom of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. "Our technicians have gathered quite a bit. We’re hoping through fingerprints, DNA, and evidence collected at the scene, the suspect will be found soon."

The sheriff’s office asks people to look for anything suspicious and check in on those living alone to ensure their safety.

"I had a meeting yesterday with all the detectives. All the detectives at the agency here are on this case; they’re all looking for you. The public is looking for you," Lt. Bloom said, directing his comments at the assailant.

The victim’s family member is hoping more information will come out in the coming days.

"Somebody in the community has to know something, and I’m hoping they’ll speak up because we definitely don’t want this to happen to anybody else."

The sheriff’s office also encourages anyone living alone to get security cameras.